After the Big-12 tiebreaker debacle unfolded, leaving Texas on the outside of the National Championship picture looking in, it became clear that we're ready for a college football playoff.
Some tried to parade Florida vs. Alabama in the SEC title game as a national semifinal, the best we could hope for, which was a) true, and b) a very, very good game, but still, it was a complete accident that it worked out like that. In another year, maybe there's three teams in the SEC and the Big-12 that deserve playoff football. What then?
There's no system in place to ensure that a team will get a chance to play for a title if it's truly earned the right to do so. Schedule questions aside, Utah and Boise State have a similar, if not as intense, a gripe as Auburn did in the first year of the BCS. Back in 2004, the Tigers went undefeated in the SEC and didn't get invited to the BCS title game. Oklahoma and USC were also undefeated, and only two teams could face off for the title. Before 2004? There wasn't even a title game. Teams just played their bowls, be it Fiesta, Sugar, or Cotton, and then there was a vote. Seriously, that's how they used to decide the National Champion.
This year, two undefeated teams will not get to play for the big one. Utah was snatched up by the Sugar Bowl, which is nice, but Boise was left out of the BCS all together in favor of a sloppy, unreliable Ohio State team. It's all about money, and more Buckeye fans will come out than will Boise fans, so they're the more attractive choice. The bowls do pick their own teams, you know. This, in a sport where an athlete accepting a cheeseburger off the dollar menu could lead the school to be fined and sanctioned, or the kid publicly mocked and humiliated, much less devalued in the eyes of pro scouts.
So it's not likely to happen, but a playoff system is absolutely the way to go. Think March Madness is the best sporting even of the year? Imagine how amazing a 12-team college football playoff would be.
Sports Illustrated went way out of their way to cook up a hypothetical, and as sad as it is that hypothetical playoffs make more sense than the actual bowls - seriously, who is going to watch Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech? - it's actually perfectly constructed and very satisfying. We've heard people float theories about a football Final Four (actually, we haven't, but it's an awesome idea) or an eight team bracket, but someone always seems to get left out. SI's 12-team idea is the best I've seen.
Check it out here.
Their idea: Take the six winners of the BCS conferences (MF NOTE: As long as you mandate that all six institute conference championship games), and add the next six highest-ranked teams. Give the first four teams a bye, which adds incentive to win every week, and then play it out.
You could even keep the bowls in tact and use them as semi-final games, rotating which bowl gets the title game every year.
Honestly, I just don't understand how this hasn't happened already. Fire up the XBox until it's a reality, I guess.
Or maybe, it's closer to the end than we think.